If you’re still looking for the best Portuguese custard tarts in town, look no further. I have gone to the ends of this city, trying custard tarts left right and centre, consumed an unimaginable amount of calories, all in the name of finding the best custard tart! Ok so maybe I haven’t, but I was pointed in the right direction a little while ago by TheSeventhArt. Before that moment, I don’t know how I ever walked past without noticing the shiny slightly burnt yellow colour of that custard.
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard of Casa Iberica, but it certainly increased the frequency of my visits. Before the custard tart discovery, Casa Iberica was the deli I’d visit to buy ham, spices, and the occasional random snack. Very conveniently located in the heart of the Spanish headquarters in Melbourne, I would walk in on Saturdays to find a line of people almost outside the door. I’d feel like an outsider because I’d be one of the very few who had no idea what most of the Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American groceries were, but I’d walk around anyway fascinated by all the delicious looking products. I’d then go “ooh” at the olives and “aah” at the cheeses, and end up buying a couple of things I had never heard of before, in the name of trying something new.
I will not pretend to know every product sold at Casa Iberica, but I do recommend trying anything in that deli fridge that seems to be calling you. The ham, the cheese, the olives, the sausages, the yummy factor! You’ll find flours like Venezuela’s Harina Pan, a special kind of corn flour used in the making of traditional dishes, Spanish rice for paella, and spices for dishes which are very hard to find in general markets. In fact if you ever need spices, make sure you have a couple of friends to split your purchase with because there’s a whole lot of spice in one bag. In another section, you’ll find all sorts of pickled and canned vegetables and beans, soft drinks, teas and hot chocolates, and to finish off, snacks and biscuits you’ve probably never heard of before. And it’s not just food that this deli stocks. They also have you covered for kitchenware such as clay dishes, jugs, cooking pots and paella utensils, including paella dishes of all sizes and giant burners if you ever decide to feed 30 people.
If you have the chance, take a Latino friend with you when you go. It will be a great learning experience on what all this food is and what some of the ingredients are used for, and best of all, you’ll get to witness the excitement as soon as they see a product reminding them of their childhood. First there’s the squeal, then there’s the “OH MY GOD IT’S “, and then when you give them an amused look, there comes the “OH BUT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! I used to have this back in !!!”. Oh but I do understand, I do the exact same thing when I come across snacks from my own childhood here in Australia.
And that custard tart? It is well worth waking up early for on a Saturday morning. Why early? Because they sell out rather quickly, which is probably why I had never seen them before. In fact you should just buy a few when you’re there. You have to trust me on this, one will just not be enough!